Wherever you are in the world, you have likely heard about the collective uprising against racial injustice in the United States. You might be wondering what is going on and why now.
Racial justice is important to me. I believe it’s my responsibility – as a human being, as a white American, and as a manager of a learning community – to share some resources for people who are watching. This is an incredible opportunity to learn and grow.
I invite you to pause.
Commit to learning about what has led up to this.
Consider that what you think you know might not be true.
Adjust your actions according to what you’ve learned.
Resources for Everyone
Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
In this poignant op-ed piece, Abdul-Jabbar says, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”
George Floyd: Five pieces of context to understand the protests
Crash course in understanding racial justice protests and why George Floyd’s murder is not an isolated event.
George Floyd: How are African-Americans treated under the law?
Very short and to the point piece with data showing how Black people in the US are disproportionately targeted.
Viewpoint: US must confront its Original Sin to move forward by Barrett Holmes Pitner
Holmes Pitner begins: “Following the death of George Floyd while under arrest, protests have consumed America and onlookers have wondered how one of the most powerful countries in the world could descend into such chaos. Despite being defined by race, American society does not spend much time analysing the history of our racial divisions, and America prefers to believe in the inevitable progression towards racial equality.”
I Am So Tired by Dr. Robert M. Sellers
Dr. Sellers is Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan. Here’s an excerpt: “This morning, I woke up very tired. Not your normal tired. I woke up with a kind of tired that can only be found on the other side of loss, anger, frustration, sadness, and despair. This morning, I woke up in a state in which African Americans make up roughly 13% of the population, but comprise 31% of the people with COVID-19 and 40% of the people dying from COVID-19.”
This is a collection of Coursera courses.
Resources for White People
If you haven’t studied systemic racism before, you’ll probably feel a lot of resistance at first. I know from experience. It can feel very uncomfortable and threatening to open ourselves up to the possibility that we’ve been complicit in racism – especially when we see ourselves as good, caring people.
But the wonderful thing is that if you stick with the discomfort and keep going, you will eventually experience a sense of freedom. We are heavily socialized into a racist system, whether we want to be or not. Once we recognize this, we start to see the opportunities we have to make change.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s okay to pause, breathe, and take care of yourself so that you have the capacity to continue learning and taking action. Racial justice is a long game, and endurance is key. These are a few of my personal recommendations.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Oluo’s book is getting a lot of attention right now, for good reason – it’s easy to read, provides practical steps, and covers a lot of issues related to race that most white people in the US have struggled with at some point. If you can’t get a copy of her book right now, read some of her writing online.
The Four I’s of Oppression – This 2-page document explains how racism and other forms of oppression show up in our lives. The four types of oppression are ideological, institutional, individual, and internalized.
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. This is an excellent, easy to read introduction to understanding what it means to have white privilege.
For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies by Courtney Ariel. A great resource if you’re wondering “what can I do?”
If you’d like to explore more, check out Anti-racism Resources for White People.